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9

Saudi Gazette, Friday, June 23, 2017

Perspectives

SAUDI GAZETTE

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VOICES

VOICES

Ramadan reminders

W

E

are now in the midst

of the wonderful month

of the year. Ramadan

is not only about ab-

staining from eating, drinking and

other worldly desires from sunrise to

sunset, it is also about reminding us

to check if we need any changes in

our behavior and personality.

Being modest

Modesty is not only about dressing

well in public; it’s about being humble,

polite and gracious.

These days, people who are pres-

tigious and show off outside seem

to be more attractive than people

who remain calm and composed in

nature. Modesty is reflected in the

way we present ourselves and how

we treat others.

Let’s treat others the way we

would like to be treated.

Allah does not like those who are

proud and have a big ego. When ego

rises, modesty falls. Whatever success

Allah has given you in life, be thankful

and happy. Remember he can take

it back in the blink of an eye. Do not

take benefits for granted and boast

about your family, your accomplish-

ment and your wealth in social me-

dia. Allah doesn’t like those who are

proud. So be thankful and be modest.

To forgive and forget

Forgiveness is not an easy task. It

takes a strong soul to forgive some-

one from the bottom of one’s heart.

Ramadan is the best month to seek

forgiveness, to apologize or to confess

anything to anyone.

Forgiving someone is not for the

other person’s sake, it’s for our own

mental comfort. Instead of letting

anger and a grudge grow inside us,

why not forgive someone and forget

the past?

It’s a noble attitude to pray to

Almighty for the person with whom

we have quarreled or with whom any

misunderstanding has occurred. Life

becomes easier if we practice the

habit of forgiving.

Gossiping and loose talk

I admit that in the era of boom-

ing social media channels such as

WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, we

cannot seem to keep our mouths shut

and ears closed. We often feel our

opinion matters and that we know

everything. Many of us engage in

gossip even without knowing it.

It can be about any friend, com-

panion or any family member. Al-

though it can be unintentional, words

flow through our mouth as though we

know everything. Allah says in the Holy

Qur’an to stay away from backbiting,

gossiping and mocking conversations.

How can we stay away from gos-

sip? Before we speak, think twice

about whether what we are sharing

about the third party is right, if it will

have a positive or negative effect

and if it will hurt the concerned party

and spoil goodwill.

Intentions should be pure, rational

We pray to the Almighty, donate

to the poor and needy, perform our

pilgrimage, help others when in need

and so on. All of these actions are

based on some intentions.

How do we know if our intentions

are pure? If our thoughts and actions

are to gain popularity and public im-

age, then we are wrong. If we are

trying to impress people to get fame

and increase our pride, then we need

to purify our intentions. Remember,

the recognition that we get from the

people around us is nothing in front of

Allah. Do good deeds from the heart

and not from a wicked mind.

Care for parents, elders at home

In the hustle and bustle life of to-

day, we often forget to express our

gratitude and concern to our parents,

elder brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts

without whom we would not have

become what we are today. Do not

wait for mother’s day and father’s day

to buy gifts for your parents or elders.

Spend time with them, talk to them,

listen to their past memories, pray with

them and make them feel secure. In

this busy life, we often forget to talk to

people in the family and time over-

takes us. But we have time to spend

hours on WhatAapp and Facebook

texting to new acquaintances.

Make this Ramadan a great op-

portunity to reconnect with family

members and create positive vibra-

tions at home. Take a few minutes in

each day to reach out to your near

and dear ones.

Praying for others

We often get a request from peo-

ple to pray for them, especially when

we go to Umrah, but do we pray for

all of them? When we pray for oth-

ers in Ramadan, we get double fold

benefits. So make it a habit to pray

for your kith and kin. Pray even for the

people who have a grudge against

you; it brings you rewards. Pray for the

people who suffer and are oppressed.

If you want Allah to be merciful to

you, be merciful to others.

Keep social media away

|Although being disconnected

from social media is hard nowadays,

we can make an effort to stay away

from it as long as possible. Social me-

dia applications like Facebook, What-

sApp, Twitter and Instagram are not a

replacement for life. It is difficult to be

offline, but at least we can try in Ra-

madan. Put the phone down and try

to spend time with the people around

you. Do not think that you can multi-

task by operating the phone why you

listen to your spouse or children.

Ramadan is the time for thought,

action and change. Let’s utilize these

holy days to uplift our spirit, ignite our

minds, create universal brotherhood

and bring about a better world.

Shafeeka Basheer

Life behind Israel’s checkpoints

E

VERY

conflict has its heroes.

In Palestine they’re the taxi

drivers.

After living for half a centu-

ry under occupation, I can no longer

endure the anxiety of what might ap-

pear on the road, whether it is angry

drivers bottlenecked at the hundreds

of barriers scattered through the West

Bank or the pathetic boys who throw

themselves at your car pretending to

clean the windshield, asking for mon-

ey. The plight of these boys invariably

makes me hate myself, forcing me to

confront the extent to which my soci-

ety has failed. Then, of course, there is

the indignity of having to wait on the

whim of an Israeli teenage soldier to

motion me to pass.

But perhaps the main reason I

stopped driving out of Ramallah is

that the roads Israel built to link the

Jewish settlements with Israel have re-

placed the familiar old roads, making

the whole network so confusing that I

often get lost. And this is the greatest

indignity of all, getting lost in your own

country.

This is why I began asking Hani to

drive me in his taxi. Patient, and well

tempered, he also possesses the sig-

nal virtue of punctuality.

Not long ago, he drove me to the

airport. I was going to London for a

week, and my flight was at 5 in the

afternoon. Twenty years ago, the

drive took 50 minutes. Now, with so

many checkpoints on the way, I left

the house at noon, five hours before

the flight.

I held my breath when we passed

the first checkpoint. Hani does not lie,

not even to soldiers. Though he lives

leaved old olive trees.

Then Hani spoke again: “And

yet some of these soldiers manning

the checkpoints have a heart.” I re-

membered something he’d told me

in the past, about a soldier who had

noticed him coming to a checkpoint,

getting checked, leaving and return-

ing again and again in the same day.

“He finally asked me whether I ever

get tired of all this. I could tell that he

genuinely felt for me.”

“And what did you say to him?”

I’d asked.

“I didn’t want him to pity me, so I

turned it back on him, saying that if I

didn’t keep on going back and forth,

he would be out of work.”

We were approaching the check-

point. I put on my glasses to make sure

I was reading the sign right. It said,

“This crossing is reserved only for Israe-

lis,” including, in fine print, those en-

titled under the Law of Return of 1950.

I looked at Hani. The sheen of per-

spiration was now visible on his brow,

too. How had it come to this? What

was the point of traveling all the way

to London to tell others about injustice

when I was so enmeshed in the logic

of occupation that the possibility that

I might be stopped at a checkpoint

sent me into such panic? We drove

through the checkpoint in compan-

ionable silence. He endured and will

endure as he has for the past 20 years.

I must do the same. We cannot afford

to abandon the struggle and must do

what we can to end this occupation,

before it succeeds in destroying us all.

The New York Times

Raja Shehadeh is a lawyer.

in Jerusalem, is fluent in Hebrew and

could easily pass for a Jew, he never

says he lives in one of the settlements.

We needed to get to the highway at

Dolev, a Jewish settlement. It’s less

than six miles from Ramallah, but the

road between them has long been

closed to Palestinian traffic. Our de-

tour took about 45 minutes, down a

winding, single-lane road. When we

reached the highway, we found that

the Israeli Army had placed concrete

barrier blocks there, preventing Pales-

tinian access to this road as well.

We stood there, wondering what

to do, while the settlers’ cars and

buses zoomed by. Hani then picked

up his mobile phone and called a

colleague to find out how it was at

the Qalandiya crossing leading to

Jerusalem, at least an hour away.

“It’s very bad,” he was told. His

friend said he had been held up for

two hours. Hani was also informed

that the checkpoint we were head-

ing to, near the village of Ni’lin, was

also closed to most Palestinians.

He turned to me with a look of

desperation: “We have no choice

but to try going through the Rantis

checkpoint.”

The problem was that only Israeli cit-

izens and Palestinians with entry permits

were allowed through there. “If we’re

stopped, I could get in trouble for at-

tempting to smuggle you through, and

you might end up being detained,”

Hani said. “Or if they want to be kind,

they might simply send us back. But

then there would be no possibility that

you’ll make it in time for your flight.

What do you say? Shall we risk it?”

“Not much choice,” I said with as

much confidence as I could muster.

“Let’s risk it.” I said this knowing that I

was taking not only an individual risk

but also one on behalf of Hani.

Now we had to find a different ac-

cess point to get on the main road.

Another taxi drove by, saw that the

road was closed and began turning

around. Hani flashed his lights. The two

drivers consulted, and Hani learned

that the other driver knew another

route. We proceeded to follow him for

another 45 minutes, wandering from

one Palestinian village to another, until

we finally found an unpaved opening

on the side of the road that had not

been blocked by the Army.

How I wish I were fatalistic, some-

one who tells himself I did all I could

and now will leave my destiny to

fate. But I’m not like that. I start eat-

ing myself up, even blaming myself

for the occupation. I tried to assure

myself that it wouldn’t be the end of

the world if I didn’t get on the flight. I

was only going to do a series of talks

on human rights. Perhaps I should stay

put in my house and give up traveling

altogether. But so much had gone

into the planning of this week, so

many people were involved. Would

they understand why I hadn’t made

it? Would they appreciate the compli-

cations of our life under occupation?

The closer we got to the check-

point, the more anxious I felt. Fret-

ting, in turn, makes me look guilty, as

though I were smuggling a bomb or

going on a violent mission. Hani could

see how tense I was. But he was too

polite to tell me to take it easy. In-

stead, he tried to distract me by telling

me one story after another. He was

a good raconteur; still, most of the

stories he told me were about check-

points, a Palestinian vein of narrative

that is almost inescapable.

“Imagine this,” he said. “Once, I

was going to the Allenby Bridge. It was

very hot and there was a long wait

at a checkpoint. When my turn finally

came, an Israeli soldier came over

and asked whether I often came this

way. I answered that I did.

“ ‘Will you be coming back this

way?’ he asked.

“I said I would.

“ ‘Don’t stand in line. Come

straight through, because I want to

speak to you.’

“On the way back I didn’t jump the

long queue as he had told me to do.

When I got to where he was standing

he asked me, ‘Why didn’t you do as I

told you?’ I said I always wait in line. He

then asked for my telephone number,

saying he wanted to talk to me.”

Hani gave him a fake number, but

he immediately called it and heard no

ring. He demanded the right number,

and Hani had no choice.

Later, “he called and proposed

that I meet with him,” Hani said. “I

knew what he wanted and told him I

was not that sort of man. He said he

could help me so I wouldn’t have to

wait in line anymore but would be

able to go straight through. In return,

he wanted me to tell him who the

troublemakers were in the Jerusalem

neighborhood where I live, and he’d

reward me. I told him I didn’t need his

help and hung up.”

As we neared the checkpoint, I

saw that the land on both sides of

the road was cultivated with silver-